Deb was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and earned a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alaska. She worked for studio potters in the Anchorage area, which gave her a strong foundation to spring from. Deb focused on glazes for a year of independent study at San Diego State University; after which she completed a Masters of Fine Arts at Penn State. She went on to teach at institutions such as: Ohio University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Washington, and University of Georgia’s study abroad program in Cortona. Deb has worked nationally and internationally at places such as theArchie Bray Foundation(MT), Mudflat Studios(MA), The Clay Studio(PA), Pottery Northwest(WA), Watershed(ME), Sanbao in Jingdezhen, China, and the Residency for Ceramics-Berlin, Germany. Since 2002, Deb has taught over eighty workshops and exhibited work locally and abroad. She moved back to Seattle in 2009 and bought a house/studio in 2013. Since then Deb has created a beautiful, functional, and communal pottery studio – Rat City Studios. Deb, the studio assistants, studio members who rent space, and people participating in classes all work in clay here. Together, they keep the wheels turning!
Deb Schwartzkopf’s aim is twofold. As a studio artist her goal is to make fabulous tableware that infuses life with purposeful beauty. The studio practice she has established provides a vehicle for her to continually learn about material, connect with community, and create intersections between ephemeral ideas and functional forms. As a community member and instructor she aims to use her unique skill set to offer educational opportunities- creating bridges to cross-pollinate communities both locally and nationally.
Rat City Studios began as Deb Schwartzkopf’s drive to have a personal studio where she could make work and hold workshops. As she mentored assistants it became clear that they needed a space to invest time in their individual artistic practice. In 2013, Deb purchased her home and studio in West Seattle. Rat City Studios has now evolved into a communal clay establishment. It is home to Deb’s production pottery studio, communal pottery education classroom, 3 semiprivate artist assistant studios, and 3 artist rental/ visiting artist studios/ transitional spaces. Through these endeavors, people are brought together to connect with each other and feed their creativity.
In order to make pottery I must approach the clay with openness and practiced skill, with a clear idea and playful intuition. My studio practice is a constant cycle referring to itself in the way I draw from my own processes and from my approach to problem solving. I also look farther afield, drinking in the many details of the world around me. I am a sponge for nuances of color placement in birds and how shadows break up forms and cause me to notice them anew. I am always seeking and asking myself, “How does this cup feel when held? Where will this pitcher live? What am I communicating with this line or volume?” As I spend hours in my studio working away, my mind blends and refracts the interests I research and the circling, recurring questions. I love the stillness and intensity of my studio practice in which I am free to listen, to move clay, to invent… My studio practice feeds me. I am fulfilled building my community through teaching workshops, trading eggs with neighbors, and spending time with friends and family. I am busy like a bee tending to the details of life, keeping up with my many hobbies, keeping my studio practice vibrate, promoting my career, mentoring in the studio, gardening and occasionally tinking away on my banjo. This constant motion feeds my energy and excitement for life, which I strive to capture in the forms and surfaces of my pottery.